Social media can be a huge time sink. Estimates suggest that the average person spends 1.72 hours per day on social media, the equivalent of 28 percent of all online activity. Inc. magazine makes the issue sound even more dire: 18 percent of Facebook users can’t hold out more than “a few hours” without checking their newsfeed, and 28 percent of Twitter users check their feed first thing in the morning before they even get out of bed.
All of this time obsessing can be a hit to productivity, but what do you do if you are responsible for managing your business’s online social media presence? Ignoring the accounts entirely is a missed opportunity, especially if you have a loyal audience trying to engage with you. On the other hand, social media has only a tenuous link to sales at best for entrepreneurs, so unless your brand demands an always-on online persona, you will want to optimize your time.
So where’s the balance? The answer is different for every person and every business. Luckily, there are some tactics to determine how much time you should be spending on social media — as well as some secrets to make that time more efficient.
Set Aside Specific Times for Social Media Use
Unless you consider social media management your full-time job, there is no reason to obsess about it throughout your work day. Allot specific time slots to check in during certain times of day, send out new posts and respond to the most pressing comments or messages. Keep your activities strictly within these slots to avoid social media management from taking over your life.
As a bonus, a limited amount of time encourages you to be more judicious with how you spend it. You’ll quickly realize that writing an essay-length response to one person is not as important as briefly touching base with multiple others.
Another bonus is that customers get used to your “social working hours,” and they may note that you will be more likely to respond to posts left at certain times of the day.
So how often should you check in? Twice a day can be enough for some brands, once if your business does not have much online engagement as it is. Once in the morning and once before you leave — say, around 3:30 — could work quite well. However, note that every person’s needs will be different, so experiment with allocating different amounts of time at different points in the day to see what is maximally effective. Which brings us to our next tip:
Find What Works for You
An interesting post from BufferApp compiled data on how big brands use social media. One takeaway was that most brands have one Facebook post once per day on average. They also noted that each additional Facebook post had diminishing returns for user engagement. With Tweets, it was the same story, with more than three Tweets showing a decreased engagement rate compared to the ones before.
So the answer for how often to post daily is once on Facebook and thrice on Twitter, right? Not necessarily. The key is to find what works by virtue of actual data. Most social media sites, Twitter and Facebook included, have rich amounts of engagement data you can track. The analytics tools provided usually do a great job of highlighting the times people engage most and the sorts of content they seem to like.
Start with a set schedule and then experiment to see if you can increase or decrease engagement by making minor adjustments, such as changing the time you post. This practice of measuring may certainly seem more time-consuming up front, but by realizing your “sweet spot” you can avoid putting in too much work or missing opportunities.
Automate Your Postings
Sometimes the act of going online, typing up a post and then publishing it can derail your productivity. Avoid this problem by setting up a content queue. Twitter and Facebook both have ways to schedule your posts, allowing you to write several at once and then determine when they will be published.
Alternatively, use a third-party tool to automate posting. Dlvr.it can make sending posts to multiple sources at once a snap, and the aforementioned folks at BufferApp have devised a way to queue your content up so your brands always has something to say online, even while you are away from your computer.
Prioritize Your Responses
Okay, so determining how often to post is one thing, but what about people who are talking with or about your brand online?
“Don’t respond to each and every tweet or comment, advises Karen Leland of the Sterling Marketing group. “A good guideline is to respond where the poster has asked a question, made a strong statement, pointed out a mistake you have made or has a request.” Follow this advice by using good judgement to determine who to ignore and who is worth engaging with personally.
Remember that your face is that of your brand online, so behaviors that would make sense to a person may not make sense for a brand. However, if you are going to respond, do it promptly. “Timing counts and most of the people who post a comment on your social media expect a response within 24 hours,” Leland states, “any longer can discourage them from future interactions.”
As a final bit of advice, Leland cautions against reacting too quickly when people get your goat online. “If you clearly have a bitter pill on your hands, don’t feed your itch to fire off an angry response. Either let it go, or take the high road and respond calmly with the facts, your point of view and an apology if appropriate.” Social Media Today has an excellent post for more info on handling these prickly situations.
Free Up Time for Social Media Management with Digital Marketing Services
EverSpark is here to help you handle important decisions like these while making your digital marketing experience easier overall. We can help you develop a digital marketing strategy that generates far more revenue than any “likes” or “retweets.”
Let us handle bringing you more business online, so you can focus on the important things that keep your business growing. View our digital marketing services page to learn more.